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Shopping center officials, city to discuss annexation

July 28, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Talks will be held next month on the possible annexation by Hagerstown of land west of the city where a planned $40 million shopping center is to be built, officials said Monday.

Annexation would offer "some inherent benefits to the City of Hagerstown. It would improve the city's real estate tax base," said Phillip L. Ross, director of the development firm for The Centre at Hagerstown.

In exchange, McLean, Va.-based Petrie Dierman Kughn officials would look to the city for assistance for building roads, extending water and sewer lines and obtaining permits for the project, Ross said.

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If the land is annexed, the shopping center planned for 70 acres near the Interstate 81 and U.S. 40 interchange could add $400,000 a year in property taxes to the city coffers, and Washington County could gain $500,000 a year in property taxes, Ross said.

If that estimate is correct, the Centre at Hagerstown could become the city's top property taxpayer, said City Finance Director Al Martin.

In fiscal 1996, the most recent year for which figures are available, the city's largest property taxpayer was Bell Atlantic Maryland at $349,138.

City and shopping center officials will meet in early August to discuss annexation. Under the annexation process, the property owner petitions the city for annexation and a public hearing would be held, said Deborah Everhart, the city's economic development coordinator and zoning administrator.

Annexation usually takes four to six months, Everhart said.

Petrie Dierman Kughn has a three-year option to buy 70 acres that are part of a 400-acre site for which Vincent Groh is a trustee.

The land is zoned highway interchange one, a zoning designation that permits a shopping center, said Bob Arch, county planner.

Ground could be broken for the shopping center in the spring of 1998, and the shopping center could open the following spring, Ross said.

The company has letters of intent for at least two anchor stores for the 650,000- to 700,000-square-foot shopping center and is negotiating several other leases, Ross said.

The center could have up to 11 anchor stores, with each leasing from 18,000 to 200,000 square feet of space, he said. The center would have between six and 16 smaller stores.

Company officials should know by the end of October which stores will anchor the center, Ross said.

The center is expected to employ between 1,500 and 1,900 people, full and part time, and have an annual payroll of $23 million, Ross said.

Construction of the shopping center would employ 700 to 800 people, he said. Local subcontractors are expected to be hired.

The center's annual sales could approach $200 million, Ross said.

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